Emergency Response

Even in the most effective systems, individuals will experience crises and have short experiences of homelessness. Emergency services are thus a vital part of an overall homelessness response system. Typically emergency services are a network of crisis management options, including homeless shelters, drop-ins, meal programs, medical treatment and visitation, and outreach services.

Outreach services, both by agents able to connect individuals to housing and by medical professionals treating those who can't or won't go to hospitals, allow service providers to engage with individuals who may be alienated from mainstream services. These interactions help outreach workers develop understanding of an individual’s challenges and barriers to services, including unsatisfactory or even traumatic past experiences with homeless shelters or mental health facilities and can help ensure they have access to medical care. In both cases, outreach work should support transitioning people off the street and into housing.